Rock and Roll Yogi

sonic wisdom, stories, sojourns from an artist rocker writer

Archive for the category “Art and Music Events”

Suburban Weirdness, Found Objects, and other Insomniac Miscellany

I awoke in the wee wee hours of this morning from AH’s (Almost Husband) delightful snoring, only to discover that I had become the unwilling participant of an odd threesome.  Somehow, despite no memory of it, Lady, our beloved yet large German Shepherd-Black Lab Mix found her way onto my side of the bed, pushed me to the center without waking me, and snuggled her way under the covers, trapping me as the main ingredient of an extremely warm, furry and heavily breathing sandwich.

Needless to say, I couldn’t quite find my way back into a deep sleep.  I lay there, trying to decide my own, as well as Lady’s fate: Do I get up, undo this tangle of four and two legged spoon-age, and commit to sleeplessness?  Or do I attempt to find some deep breathing yogic way back into sleep. This insomniac samsara continued, along with a multitude of random thoughts, blog ideas, and images inserted like endless hyperlinks.  Such as:

My Pink Pig courtesy of Target Bargain Aisle Shopping at the Mall. Note the blue bathtub in the background, and the glamorous “Pony Wall” pig sits on.  (Stay tuned for future posts on our blue and pink bath renos). Despite being a coin bank, with a little coin slot on his back, he remains penniless, on the shelf above my vanity.  I just like him there.  With his friends:

Mini Buddha, Peruvian Good Luck Piglet, Grandma’s 1930’s Lead Paint Turtle.  I’m sure this menagerie will grow with time.

I texted friend and fellow blogger Jocelyn of the Home Tome from Target’s Bargain Aisle on the very day that Pink Pig was purchased, along with other non-essential items, like

A phone/gadget chaise lounge.  Umbrella sold separately.  I was desperate for an intervention.  Jocelyn tried in her most convincing Text-ese to help me “Step away from the bargain aisle”, but her excitement at the Pig’s bold pink cuteness (I sent her an image text) and her poetic ramblings of serving her cell phone a Margherita on her patio, left me sapped of strength, and helpless against the power of Pink Pig.  And Cell Phone Lounge Chairs.  Four of them.  I promised two for her and Rob.  Remember, avoid People, Places and Things when trying to break a bargain-bin addiction.

Jocelyn the blogger – and person – is just cool.  In that crafty, smart, making it all work kind of way.

Ahhhh, those white walls, those high ceilings. She’s the get it done, leave no obvious mess, tie it up in an awesome retro vintage one of a kind object type of gal.  And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, she throws in her bizarrely funny obsession with Mushrooms, Gnomes, and well…you’ll have to click over on her site to check it all out.

Despite the fact that I am a little more of a wild, gray-blonde streaked hair flying, leave a trail of crumpled post it notes, coffee cups, and muddy dog paw prints, wrap-it-up in some old lumber ties left over from that Home Depot run, type gal, we seem to have a nice synergy.  For starters, we have a weird Gnome obsession.  More on Magical Woodland Creatures at a later time.  Essentially, we both fit a little bit into what I am calling “Suburban Weirdness”.  You can follow that concept in images, and others, on my new Pinterest Page.  And there is now a new category here on the blog as well.

Our latest weirdness is an exchange of items Via the Mailbox.  It started with my sneaky secret gnome-like drive-by late evening delivery of those cell phone chaise loungers-straight into her mailbox with a little note.  Jocelyn liked this.  And then she one-upped me.

A Monday Morning Mailbox Muffin deposit.  Text Alert at 10am.  Oy.  These banana-nut confections were delicious with AH’s crazy home-roasted and brewed coffee, as well as with a cold glass of milk before bed. Yum.  I consider our mailbox exchanges cute yet a little weird in that – these things only happen in the Suburbs – kind of way.  I wonder what will be delivered next.  Perhaps we should start a Monday Morning Muffin Mailbox Delivery Service to all the Freelancing-Work-From-Home folks in the ‘Burbs who feel the need for their own version of a “Hang around the Cooler Office Chat”.  Almost Husband Ira (seen below on the right) has his own Suburban Neighbor friendships:

But whereas mine involve baking and shopping and blogging, his involve Hazmat Suits, applying toxic materials to foundations, and drinking beer.  Now I am a feminist, but there’s something suspiciously gendered going on here.

That was an interesting segueway.  I will leave it up to you to determine the Freudian implications.  Let us continue:  Above is another example of Suburban Weirdness.  Yes, this summer, I ran into a local Nyack woman on the sidewalk carrying a gigantic Zucchini.  She was so giddy and freaked out by this creature she’d birthed from her plot in the Nyack Commuity Garden, that she was practically skipping down the sidewalk and I had to stop her to take a pic.  I have to say, in my more than 10 years living in NYC, I never did stop a skipping person on the sidewalk carrying a Zucchini larger than a newborn baby.  Yep, Suburban Weirdness.

She was so overcome, that she shared a beautiful story about how her father had just passed, and she’d tended that garden with love and tenderness and grief, only to discover her plot yielding the most insanely large, healthy veggies yet.  Like they were trying to become Human-Sized.  Full of Spirit.  A Garden of Grief can grow something quite Magical – a Veggie Message from the Other Side.  I believe it.  I continue to feel conversations between me and the folks I’ve lost to that other side.

Here is a found object mise-en-scene between Toy Plastic Soldier (found by Rockland Lake Summer 2012) confronting Toy Plastic Dinosaur (Can’t recall where this was found).  My Dad was a WWII Vet/Writer/Cartoonist who liked odd juxtapositions of objects and words.  So this little scene lives on our kitchen window sill.  Its my way of continuing the conversation. More about Dad in this post here.  And there will be more since I am soon to release a new set of songs, inspired by our relationship, on Veteran’s Day 11/11.  I’ll keep you posted.  For the locals reading this, you’ll be able to hear me and my band live, and buy your own copy of the CD on that day Here.

Well, we’ve journeyed the inner workings of my insomniac-al mind.  Thanks for coming along.  My stomach is rumbling, I wonder if Jocelyn will make me some chocolate banana zucchini muffins next.  Lady has followed me to the couch and is sleeping soundly.  The infomercials are in full bloom on TV right now.  I want to, but don’t think I can, tie all of these random bits into some absolute nugget of glistening wisdom.  You”ll have to connect the dots for me, since I’m sure you are reading this after having a sound night’s sleep.  Feel free to comment below once you’ve sorted it all out.

The only thing I can say concretely, as I finally drift back to sleep:  Sometimes you just gotta go with the flow.

Being in Aliveness – Far Out Music Festivals, Trance Driving, Hipster Sound Baths

“When our aliveness consciously connects with the aliveness of the universe, a current of aliveness flows through us. At that moment — when life meets life — a direct connection between the living universe and ourselves is realized and we have an awakening experience. We no longer see ourselves in the universe, we experience that we are the universe.” – Duane Elgin  

Thanks to my sister-in(common)law Ashley Young for sharing this quotation on my facebook page today.  She is aliveness incarnate – her energy is ceaseless as she bounds around NYC and the world with her video camera creating films (sometimes pro-bono) for amazing organizations to help share their messages of peace, and unity, on a global, spiritual, full-on let’s change the world-level.

In my own, internal way, I’ve been deep in aliveness recently.  There’s been so much aliveness, day in and day out this past month, that although I’ve imagined so many blog posts – glorious, perfect little stories and adventures with their own custom theme songs – I realized – as did friend and fellow blogger Melissa Marc of The New Fairytale – that, OOPS, I didn’t WRITE THEM DOWN.

Which begs the question:  If a blog is completely written in one’s mind, but is not actually written down, or published, and no one reads it, does it still exist?  OK, maybe not quite the same as “If a tree falls in the woods, but no one hears it does it make sound?” parable, but I’m trying over here.  I am the RRY after all.  I’ll keep working on it.

Back to Aliveness.  Let us Enter:  Aliveness in Three Parts.  Spoken in the voice of Ira Glass from This American Life:

PART 1: Autumnal Equinox. September 22nd. Woman Lured Last Minute to the Muddy Banks of Esopus Creek to Perform at the Far Out Music Festival.  She Sings, She Dances, She Politely Declines Offers of Various Designer Drugs.  And Bad Light Beer.

PART 2:  Perfect Autumn Morning. Friday September 28th. Woman Drives Down Manhattan’s West Side Highway in State of Bliss and Grief and Joy. WKCR’s Early Morning Music Show Playlist brings her to a trance state, her body and car and mind becoming One.  (Only Certified Yogis are Qualified for this Advanced Yogic Practice).

PART 3: September 30th.  A Bath is In Order.  Woman Journeys to the Hipster Town Otherwise Known as WilliamsburgRightbytheBedfordLTrain to Enter Artist Built Yurt. Jesus Eagle Clears Her Chakras with Sage and Feathers. A Sound Bath Via Gong Ensues. She Journeys to Places of Infinite Vibration.  She Fails to Communicate with the Dead.

What do these all have in common?  Almost Husband (Also named Ira) asks tonight over dinner, in his best Ira Glass voice.

Well, Each woman is me.  And each involve some kind of journey – road trip.  And well, other kinds of trips.  Mind/body/spirit trips.  Of the all natural, not smoked, inhaled or swallowed kind. You get the picture.  And each, in their own way, was part of my annual autumnal re-entry back into my Aliveness.

You see, my father Morton died six years ago September 30th.  Each year when autumn begins and September comes to a close, I feel some unseen, difficult, can’t possibly express anxiety, sadness and joy all at once trying to find a way into consciousness, expression.  Sometimes there just aren’t words for it.  And as 9/30 approaches I vow to “do something” to honor him and his passing.  His life, our complicated relationship, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Part 1: Fall is here.  I journey to the Catskills near Saugerties after a musical cohort of many years, Benoir, invited me to play the Far Out Fall Harvest Musical Festival.  Road trips always fill me with a certain joy and this was a particularly straightforward route, so I didn’t need to worry about getting lost.  For two hours I rocked out to sort of bad, yet kinda good classic rock playlists on various local radio stations. Dark clouds loomed overhead the whole time, threatening my 3pm set’s outdoor setting.  When I arrived at the Black Bear Campgrounds, it was like entering some strange far out, lost boys kind of place.  People seemed a little out of it, not quite sure whether they were coming or going.  I was 100% sober so maybe that had something to do with it. Turns out though that it was more about the fact that the forecasted bad bad weather had turned people away and the turn out was smaller than expected.  I soldiered on in typical RRY fashion.  The clouds were holding shape for now, and I kinda like a weird, solemn gray day. I set-up, listened to the opening band Whiskey Reverb, and walked around the grounds. The banks of the creek called to me, as I quieted my racing thoughts about all things logistical, what songs to play, and whether I should eat before or after I played…whether I should sleep in my car later or drive home in the wee hours.

At 5PM, I finally got on stage, after numerous technical delays, and had started into “He Roams”, when the organizer stopped me after the first two chords.  “We gotta wait one hour so the Church can do its thing”.  Ummm, What??!  Are you kidding me? Turns out the Church through the woods behind the stage had some kind of very special and quiet Autumnal Equinox Service and the Festival had to Shssss as well.  Far Out, Man.  This was a first.  A Church Service never opened for me before.  I walked around and told some of the hippy folks hanging around with their guitars that we should all just attend the service.  Half joking, but kinda half serious too.  No one took me seriously. So I sat by the bonfire and waited for my own version of Church to begin.

By the time I actually sang I was pretty tired.  But also relaxed and feeling naturally high in a good, Catskills Bonfire by the Creek sort of way. Benoir arrived with his entourage, the Light Beer started flowing, the Christmas Tree Lights and candles came out, and some more folks arrived ready to party.  My voice  was lit by something unseen and unreal and crackled, warmed and expanded into the air around us like the heat and flames of the giant campfire. Folks were responding to my tunes, I told stories about love and loss, and then let it all rock out during “Oxbow Legacy“, my voice doing some new kind of thing-it was so bluesy and strong I thought maybe someone else had entered my body-someone like Janis who really likes her Whiskey.

The night continued on well after my early evening set, with DJ Roo getting us all twisted and crazy with freaky trance fun disco jungle beats. I danced with some fun folks including one of the only other chicks hanging around: CeCi Gonzo.  A Gal from the Bronx, and now living in Albany by way of Atlanta.  I don’t know her whole story, but I won’t forget her name, no Sir.  She was super cute, and her eyes were all aglow and her spirit oozing Aliveness.  It was infectious.  God dancing is so good.  There needs to be WAY more of it.  I used to dance my ass off in College.  In my bra.  With packs of women at the LBGT parties.  (Insert PHOTO/VIDEO MONTAGE that only EXISTS IN MY MIND Here). Alas, I digress.  Night fell, and Benoir and his Long Beach Allstars hit the stage.  Highlights included showing Woody how to do Warrior 3.  And eating pepperoni pizza.  Thank you gods.  Then the rain.  The skies exploded.  It was like a cleansing.  Grayness, Fire, Rain, Music Crashing my Ears, now Water Crashing overhead.  In the spirit of CeCi and all the lightness I felt after such a strange, gray day, I wrapped myself in lights.  Literally.  I had become light.  Far Out.

Part 2:  An old friend of mine who also lost his father in recent years, said to me when his grief was still fresh: “I just want there to be beauty, beauty all around me.  Beauty”.  As if saying it three ways would make it real.  And its true.  Why are we waiting to find, be, know beauty in ourselves, our lives, our hearts? There’s not a lot of time.  Ah Yes. Mortality.  Dad loved the play on his name, he was funny like that. “Je Suis Mort”.  My brother, sister and I joked this would make a good epitaph.  Dad would’ve loved it.  But he was cremated and released into the Hudson River instead.

That goddamn river was so beautiful on the day that I drove across the George Washington Bridge and down the West Side Highway to work on Sept. 28th.  I found myself lost in a trance while listening to WKCR’s Early Morning Classical Music Program.

Dad. Dad. Dad. Was all I could feel and think.  He was there with me.  The lights dancing off the water, the buildings, beauty everywhere, a weird Autumnal grayness settling over all the colors so they pop in contrast.  The feel of the car turning and gliding and slowing and turning again, the movement of life itself.  Crescendos and swells of perfect orchestrated strings and horns. My heart lilting with breath and hurting with almost too much beauty.  Dad understood this.  And he didn’t ever need words to let me know.  Ironically, although he was a writer, and a funny word play person, it was the quiet, non-word moments between us – eyes, laughter, silence, that helped me know him the best.

Six years ago, hours before his death, in the ugliness of his hospital room, a feeding/air tube and recent brain surgery obstructing his ability to talk, the sounds of machines and nurses, Dad waved his arm and hand around, with rhythm, intention, feeling – conducting time, space, his unspoken love and awe for us and life.  It was Beauty itself.  And Aliveness. I think in that moment, I never saw him more alive.  He and I were one.  And there was Music Everywhere.

Part 3: Somehow the anniversary of Dad’s death 2 days later coincided with an invitation to attend a Sound Bath.  Gongs. In a Yurt.  In Williamsburg. In an artist’s studio.  OK.  I never thought my first time in a yurt would be in Billyburg at an art studio.  But this is the beauty of all things Art and NYC.  But seriously, the artist, Philip Riley’s “The House of Dreams” exhibit is truly cool.  His yurt aims to recreate something called a “Psychomanteum”, a structure conceived of by Psychologist Raymond Moody as a way to process grief.  And even communicate with the Dead.  Hmmm.

As I stood in the Artist’s Loft in one of the hippest places in Brooklyn, I couldn’t believe the irony.  The synchronicity.  Dad would’ve loved this.  Maybe he’ll visit.  Would be a good time for all if he did.  We packed into the small round space, lit by candles.  Emily Horowitz played her gong beautifully, but at first, I had trouble letting go, letting the sounds free me, wash me.  I felt tension, difficulty relaxing. Sonically I was in heaven, but mentally/physically I was struggling.  I felt grasping, over efforting.  For a sound bath, I wasn’t getting very clean.  I felt almost as if I was getting more clogged, as if my expectations for some totally definitive Dad’s Death Anniversary Communicado Via Brooklyn Yurt Sound Bathers was stopping me from being in the moment, from being really Here.

So I focussed on the candles – four were visible to me.  There was a tall one- which I imagined was Dad, and then three smaller ones grouped together – I imagined these were me and my two siblings.  I didn’t pray or ask questions or wait for some miraculous moment of realization.  Or Dad’s voice telling me something I didn’t already know.  And Yet. The sound, the candlelight, my soft focus on those four flickering wicks.  Soon my aches and pains and discomfort faded and mingled and softened and merged.  Like the overtones of Emily’s gong swirling in and out in incredible impossible to recreate patterns.  A word came to mind:  One.  I needed to stop over focussing on Dad versus Me versus You and Me and I and Us and This and That. My I was tired.  Of constantly creating separation.  Between Dad being here, and not being here.  He was Here.  Always Here.  There’s no reason to differentiate between the physical plane and all the other planes we can’t prove or disprove.  It was time, I felt finally.  To move FORWARD.  Beyond grief.  Into something very new, something I’m not sure I was aware existed before.  Something I KNOW, but not something I can SEE.  So maybe I did communicate with the Other Side.  The other side of my own mind’s possibilities.

Aliveness. I think in that moment of awakening, I never felt Dad more alive.  Or me.  Or Brooklyn.  Or Strangers in a Yurt.  We were all one sound.  Nada Yoga.  Nadam. Ommmmm.  Vibration.

The Universe is ringing in my ears.


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